A White Georgia high school history teacher could lose her job after permitting advanced placement students to wear mock Ku Klux Klan uniforms at school to film a class project on May 20.
Teacher Catherine Ariemma is currently on administrative leave and could face suspension or termination.
According to the Associated Press, four Lumpkin County High School students in a history/film education class were making a film on the history of racism in America, which they intended to share with classmates. Included in the film was the history of the KKK, a White supremacist group responsible for the terrorizing and murdering thousands of African-Americans in the South.
“The kids brought the sheets in, they had SpongeBob party hats underneath to make it shaped like a cone,” Ariemma said, according to The Huffington Post. “They cut out the eyes so they could see.”
When Ariemma led the students through the cafeteria to film in another location of the school, some Black students became upset. One student told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that his cousin was “frightened.”
“I got mad and stood up and I tried to go handle it,” Cody Rider told the TV station.
Lumpkin County School Superintendent Dewey Moye said Ariemma, a 5-year teaching veteran with no prior problems, made “a very bad decision.”
“It was very poor judgment and we condemn that type of decision on her part,” he told WSB-TV.
The high school is 90 percent White and located about 75 miles from Atlanta. Administrators will watch the students’ film before deciding whether it will be shown in the classroom.
“It was poor judgment on my part in allowing them to film at school,” Ariemma told the AP. “That was a hard lesson learned.”